We’re nearly into the second week of December, which means the festive season is in full swing. During this enjoyable time of year, you’re likely to attend parties and later than usual nights out, plus indulge in party foods and drinks. Even the most disciplined of us can put on a couple of pounds over the holidays. However, what is perhaps less widely recognised is that all of these treats can take a toll on your dental health.
Here at Ollie & Darsh, we’ve put together some tips on how to ensure your teeth don’t suffer too much this December:
1) Don’t let your oral health routine go out the window
Amid all the parties, rushing around and fun, don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth before you head to bed. We understand that it might be tempting to skip your usual dental routine following a long evening. However, we’d like to stress that it’s your best defense against the influx of sugar your teeth are likely to receive. Christmas morning is also so exciting for your little ones, but it’s important to make sure they brush for the full three minutes.
2) Treat yourself or a loved one
Christmas is a time for giving. Why not purchase a new electric toothbrush for yourself or a relative? We recommend regularly changing your toothbrush (whether manual or an electric brush head). Storing a toothbrush in a closed container can cause bacteria to build up, bristles become frayed and worn with use and cleaning effectiveness decreases. Electric or battery-operated toothbrushes are more powerful at consistently reducing plaque and gum disease in both the short-and-long term. You’ll notice the difference (and so will your dentist!).
3) Moderation is key
Mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding…there’s plenty of sweet festive desserts to indulge in this December and they all add up. Although they taste great, they’re usually high in sugar. You don’t have to completely compromise on what you eat and drink, however, as the main problem is not so much the amount of sugar, but the frequency of sweet and acidic snacking. The harm comes from putting sugar into your mouth several more times a day than normal. Try to minimise the number of these occasions as snacking and drinking throughout the day creates the perfect climate for bacteria and plaque.
4) Opt for cheese, turkey and nuts!
A cheesecake dessert is a healthier choice; the reason being that cheese is actually GOOD for your teeth. So go ahead and enjoy that cheeseboard after Christmas dinner because cheese helps to return the mouth to its natural acid balance, reducing the chance of developing tooth decay. Turkey is also a good choice as it contains both phosphorus and protein, which are great for fighting decay and strengthening your teeth. Finally, nuts have terrific amounts of fiber, folic acid calcium, and other vitamins.
5) Watch the alcohol
We all enjoy a glass of wine or two at Christmas, but did you know that white wine can be very acidic, contributing to enamel erosion; or that red wine can increase the risk of teeth staining?
We’d recommend just drinking red or white wine with your main evening meal. And don’t let the festivities distract you from brushing following your alcoholic drinks. To remove any stains, it’s important to leave a gap before you brush your teeth. Dentists say even just one glass of wine a day can dry out our mouths, reduce the calcium in our teeth, and leave us with bad breath. Alcohol is also increasingly associated with mouth cancer.
6) Drink with a straw
This is a fantastic tip for children (and some adults too!). There’s likely to be plenty of fizzy drinks this Christmas, but to minimise the damage to teeth, Ollie & Darsh advise using a straw to limit the amount of sugar that comes into contact with teeth.
7) Chew some sugar-free gum
Chewing gum stimulates saliva, in turn helping to rid your mouth of any stagnating plaque after eating. Of course, gum also comes in handy at parties as it keeps your breath minty fresh! (good for kissing under the mistletoe). Always remember that sugar-free gum is healthier for your teeth.
8) Your teeth are not ‘tools’
Don’t use your teeth for things they weren’t designed for, i.e. tearing through tough packaging and clothing labels, or opening beer bottles. This can damage your teeth and potentially cause a dental emergency (the last thing you want on Christmas Day!). Remember, your teeth are not a substitute for a bottle opener, so please avoid this party trick!
Amid all the temptations and indulgences, it is easy to neglect your dental health over the Christmas period. We hope these tips help to ensure you don’t develop problems into the new year. If you feel like you’ve overdone it, why not start 2018 right by visiting our Liverpool city centre clinic in January. Perhaps you’ll benefit from a dental hygiene appointment, or maybe your regular dental check-up is due. At Ollie & Darsh, we’ll help maintain your perfect, healthy smile.
We’d like to wish you all the best for Christmas and a wonderful 2018!
Ollie & Darsh